Looking at Social Media in Interesting Ways
Practice what you preach. I try to live by this adage. Since I teach and perform research about social networks and informal learning, how could I not invest in Facebook’s IPO? I didn’t go wild, but just bought the minimum 100 shares at the $38 IPO price. Thinking that I would make some money on the opening day of trading, I was gung-ho and optimistic. However, as the day ensued, my enthusiasm dampened only to end the day 23 cents per share above what I started (and if you count the broker’s commission fee, I almost lost money for the day). Through these circumstances and my eternal optimism, I will hold onto my Facebook stock for several years and hope that the stock price increases similar to Google, Apple, Cisco, and other technology stocks in years past.
In looking at other social networking-like stocks that issued IPOs in the past year or two, only LinkedIn seems to have done well. Groupon hasn’t fared well after its IPO this past year. I am certainly not a financial guru to understand all the complexities of the market. But in time, I am mildly confident that some of these creative types of Web 2.0 companies will fare well in the long run. The key is perhaps finding a niche. Look at Instagram: the photo-sharing service company was bought for $1 billion by Facebook. Some of the geo-location based companies, with associated products, are coming out with some creative products and services. And certainly, with everything going mobile, companies must integrate mobile computing into their products.
Even in my world of knowledge management, some key trends for 2012 as announced at the April 2012 American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) Annual Knowledge Management Conference are: social media, consumerization of knowledge management, and the age of analytics. Also, the use of imagery and visualization will play a role in future knowledge management applications. Social networking is the way of the world, especially among the Gen Y’ers. The younger generation is the digital natives, and social networking is part of their bloodstream.
In the corporate setting, companies are looking at social networking in interesting ways. Merck combines social computing and organizational development into their Virtual Technical Networks. According to the Global Science, Technology and Commercialization group within Merck Manufacturing Division, the Virtual Technical Network has become a brand for professional networking and collaboration. Toro, a global leader in turf and landscape maintenance, has Specialization Groups and uses SharePoint as their Toro Engineering Knowledge Site.
However, some research by Booz and Company shows that the informal networks in organizations aren’t fully being leveraged from a learning and on-the-job performance standpoint. For example, even though 98% of those companies surveyed felt informal networks were important to building a continuous learning organization, less than 40% allocated resources towards nurturing this informal learning through social media.
So what needs to be done? First, organizations need to provide the tools to allow the flowers to bloom. Second, encourage learning and knowledge sharing through company awards, senior leadership champions, and perhaps through the annual performance reviews. Third, show the business value of social networking through increasing collaboration and innovation, improving the speed to market, and enhancing employee productivity. Last, use social networking to increase your global reach and augment your informal learning. With these thoughts in mind, maybe my craze for social networking will be supported!